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High school students look at criminal justice through eyes of experts

Click to enlarge High school students look at criminal justice through eyes of experts

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Harnett County District Attorney Vernon Stewart (left) was among criminal justice and court officials ... (more)

11.29.2013College & CommunityCollege GeneralCurriculum ProgramsStudents/Graduates

LILLINGTON - Harnett County District Attorney Vernon Stewart and Marsha Woodall, chief court counselor of the N.C. Department of Juvenile Justice, were among the criminal justice and court officials on hand Thursday, Nov. 14, at Central Carolina Community College's Harnett County Campus to speak to high school and CCCC students.

The officials discussed the advantages and responsibilities of their jobs at the special recruiting event for the students sponsored by the college's Criminal Justice/Paralegal program.

"The court system is always going to be there," said Stewart. "It is a good, stable career path. You work with good people and will be satisfied with your work."

Stewart, who attended a community college before transferring to a university, said he didn't know what he wanted to do after graduation, but he decided to go on to law school and has never regretted it.

"I like seeing justice being served," he said. "It doesn't necessarily mean receiving the harshest punishment. If you try a case and know you've helped to put a fractured life back together through a drug diversion or some other rehabilitation program, it is very satisfying."

Captain Kent Everett and Harnett County Sheriff's Deputy Brandon Klingman are graduates of the CCCC Criminal Justice program. Everett, who serves as chief jailer for the Lee County Sheriff's Department, said his community college training prepared him to move forward in his career path.

"I learned a lot at CCCC," he said. "It prepared me to transfer to a four-year school and move into the workforce."

Everett went on to graduate from Fayetteville State University in 2005. He is currently working on a master's degree in Criminal Justice. Klingman is a CCCC Career and College Promise and Basic Law Enforcement Training graduate. He also credits CCCC for his success in law enforcement. He said that the most interesting aspect of his job is its unpredictability.

"It is the reward I get from dealing with people and helping them to solve their problems," he said "It's seeing the cases come to a satisfactory conclusion."

Established in 1986, Career and College Promise is a state-funded dual-enrollment program that allows secondary students to enroll in community college courses. The program helps to accelerate the completion of college certificates, diplomas and associate degrees that lead to college transfer or provide entry-level job skills. College tuition and fees are waived and the local school district provides textbooks for its students.

According to Criminal Justice Lead Instructor Markita McCrimmon, the Justice Studies recruiting event was very helpful.

"It was beneficial to Justice Studies students and gave them a different perspective on the various jobs and opportunities available in the Criminal Justice field," she said.

The approximately 45 students who attended the event were full of questions. Alissa Fore, 17, a junior at Western Harnett High School, asked about getting into the CCP program at her high school.

"I've known I wanted to go into Criminal Justice for years," she said. "I'd like to be some kind of behavioral analyst like a profiler."

The Criminal Justice Technology, Basic Law Enforcement Training, and Paralegal Technology programs at the college teach students how to think critically and develop good communication skills.

BLET graduates receive a certificate and are prepared for an entry-level position as a deputy sheriff, police officer or a position in corporate or private security. Paralegal Technology graduates receive either an Associate of Applied Science degree or a diploma. They are eligible to work in private law firms, banks, real estate companies, legal departments of large corporations, hospitals, and in numerous government offices.

Criminal Justice Technology graduates earn an Associate of Applied Science and are eligible to work in juvenile court intake counseling, probation and parole, state, local or federal law enforcement, wildlife, and other related fields. They can also work as magistrates with an additional four years of work experience in a related field.

Lisa Robinson, paralegal lead instructor, and Harnett County Detective Kendra Coats, also spoke to the students. Coats, who has been in law enforcement for 11 years said her job is very rewarding.

"I like the satisfaction and closure I can bring to victims by trying to solve their cases," she said. "It has been a great career path."

For more information on the Justice Studies program at Central Carolina Community College, contact Markita McCrimmon at 919-718-7292 or e-mail her at, or contact Lisa Robinson at 919-718-7335.